Periodic charts bring new meaning to Texas A&M wildlife researcher, others

by Steve Byrnes, Texas A&M AgriLife

To many of us, the mere mention of a “periodic table” conjures up pop quizzes, dread and the queasiness associated with past ninth grade chemistry classes dealing with the famous element chart, but to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist and his colleagues, the term has taken on a whole new meaning.

Dr. Kirk Winemiller and doctoral students Dan Fitzgerald and Luke Bower, scientists within the department of wildlife and fisheries sciences at Texas A&M University, College Station, and Dr. Eric Pianka, ecologist at the University of Texas, Austin, published a paper two years ago in the journal Ecology Letters, that proposed a rationale for periodic tables of niches and offered ways to create them. Continue reading

Cornell develops the first robotic insect

In Cornell News

Flying insects can perform impressive acrobatic feats, simultaneously sensing and avoiding a striking hand or landing on moving surfaces, such as leaves or flowers blowing in the wind. Similarly, walking insects can display amazing speed, maneuverability, and robustness by rapidly sensing and avoiding predators, while foraging or seeking shelter in small spaces and unstructured terrains.

Silvia Ferrari, Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, with Robert J. Wood (Harvard University), is working toward a future where autonomous, small-scale robots would have similar capabilities, sensing and responding to their environments and maneuvering without human commands. These robots would be particularly invaluable for surveillance or reconnaissance missions in dangerous or remote environments. Continue reading

Cover Crops Boost Yields and Weed Control, National Farmer Survey Says

Following the use of cover crops, farmers reported increased yields of corn, soybeans and wheat, and improved control of herbicide-resistant weeds, according to a nationwide survey. In addition, the survey of 2,012 farmers showed acreage planted in cover crops has nearly doubled over the past five years.

Survey participants—88 percent of whom use cover crops—reported that after cover crops:

  • Corn yields increased an average of 2.3 bushels per acre, or 1.3 percent;
  • Soybean yields increased 2.1 bushels per acre, or 3.8 percent;
  • Wheat yields increased 1.9 bushels per acre, or 2.8 percent.

A full summary and the complete 2017 Cover Crop Survey Report are available online at: www.sare.org/2017CoverCropSurvey Continue reading

IPM Leader receives Excellence in Extension Award

At their national meeting in August, the American Phytopathological Society recognized Center for Integrated Pest Management Director Frank Louws with the Excellence in Extension award for his outstanding Extension activities.

One of the primary examples of Dr. Louws’ Extension-based successes is his NC State University department, the Center for IPM. The Center has multiple cooperative agreements with USDA Animal Plant Health Investigative Service and grant funded projects with the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, including the Southern IPM Center. Many of these projects generate new information and translates the information to end-users including farmers, industry organizations and government agencies. Continue reading

Professor of Ecology, Kansas State University

The Division of Biology at Kansas State University invites applications for a faculty position in Ecology, starting in fall 2018, at the level of Professor with tenure, although applications from highly-qualified candidates at the level of Associate Professor are also welcome. We seek candidates with expertise that will complement a well-established and diverse ecology group in the Division of Biology, and contribute to the highly productive, internationally-recognized Konza Prairie grassland ecology research program. We are particularly interested in candidates with experience in grassland and/or savanna biomes and expertise in plant or consumer population and/or community ecology, plant-consumer interactions, or research at the interface of community and ecosystem ecology. In addition to conducting research in his/her area of expertise, the successful candidate will participate fully as a core investigator in the highly collaborative NSF-funded Konza Prairie Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program (lter.konza.ksu.edu), and contribute to graduate and undergraduate instruction in the Division (www.ksu.edu/biology). The successful candidate will have a strong record of research productivity, and the ability to provide leadership in interdisciplinary research and develop collaborations across a range of ecological disciplines. A Ph.D. or equivalent, and an academic record commensurate with a tenured senior faculty appointment, is required. Continue reading

Community Food Projects (CFP) Competitive Grants Program

In FY 2018, NIFA’s CFP intends to solicit applications and fund two types of grants. The types are entitled (1) Community Food Projects (CFP) and (2) Planning Projects (PP). The primary goals of the CFP are to: Meet the food needs of low-income individuals through food distribution, community outreach to assist in participation in Federally assisted nutrition programs, or improving access to food as part of a comprehensive service; Increase the self-reliance of communities in providing for the food needs of the communities; Promote comprehensive responses to local food access, farm, and nutrition issues; and Meet specific state, local or neighborhood food and agricultural needs including needs relating to: Equipment necessary for the efficient operation of a project; Planning for long-term solutions; or The creation of innovative marketing activities that mutually benefit agricultural producers and low-income consumers. Continue reading